The adoption of comprehensive surgical asset management systems by hospitals and surgery centers has helped Central Sterile Supply Departments more effectively manage not only facility-owned assets, but loaner sets as well. Because loaner sets move in and out of a facility’s custody, there are opportunities to further advance loaner set reprocessing efficiency by opening the lines of communication between all stakeholders invested in loaner management. Expanding the boundaries of information exchange outside a facility’s walls is not ground-breaking. The hurdle has been how to incorporate better communication into the loaner management process without creating unintended additions to staff workflow.

Improving Communication

Before digging into possible solutions, it’s important to understand what communication gaps exist today in respect to loaner management and why these gaps are troublesome. Typical issues facilities that reprocess loaner sets may experience include:

  • Lack of Central Sterile Supply Department visibility to the date and time of when assets are scheduled to be delivered, which can lead to insufficient availability of processing staff when loaner sets arrive.
  • Lack of Central Sterile Supply Department and OR visibility to late arrival assets that can cause inadequate reprocessing and/or possible OR delays.
  • Lack of Central Sterile Supply Department visibility to the delivery of new types of loaner sets, preventing advanced training for staff on how to process and access to manufacturer instructions for use (IFUs); another possible cause of OR delays.
  • Lack of vendor visibility to when assets are ready for pickup, which can result in inventory storage space issues for the facility.

Closing Communication Gaps

Multiple companies are working on technology remedies to tackle the vendor / surgeon / facility communication gaps. For facilities, the goal will be to engage a solution that solves these issues without jeopardizing Protected Health Information (PHI), or layering in more user logins and passwords, and complexity into their staff’s already busy workflow. One critical observation; seamless integration to a facility’s asset tracking automation system seems to be an important consideration for several reasons:

1.Users don’t want to sign-in and sign-out of multiple applications in order to access important information, and

2.Users don’t want to input duplicate information into multiple applications related to check-in, check-out, and surgical case details.

There is no doubt that better communication related to loaner management can avoid compromises in patient safety related to sterile processing. In an attempt to solve problems related to communication gaps, facilities will need to diligently validate how potential solutions will integrate into their own individual, unique environments.